The former Georgia Bulldog shot 6-under-par 64 on Friday to open a two-stroke lead in the St. Jude Classic.
The 23-year-old had never even had a piece of a lead on the PGA Tour until Thursday when he found himself tied with five others, including Davis Love III, after 18 holes.
He used a hot putter to roll in five birdie putts, holed out from 181 yards for eagle on the par-4 fifth and had only one bogey to finish the second round at 10-under 130.
“It’s awesome to be in this position,” English said. “I’ve worked very hard the last couple weeks and couple months to get in this position, and I feel like I’m ready and I feel like I got a lot of good people around me to help me.”
Shawn Stefani was second after 65. Paul Haley II and Scott Stallings each shot 68 to reach 5-under.
English turned in the best round of the tournament on a course playing very tough despite a temperature around 80 degrees – very rare at this time of year in Memphis.
“Obviously, if he has another two days like the first two, it will be tough to catch him,” said Dustin Johnson, who is seven behind English.
This is English’s second year on tour after finishing up his college career at Georgia in 2011.
Love has kept track of English for years. English and Love live in Sea Island, Ga.
“His game has really improved, and he’s playing well and he’s not afraid to shoot low scores,” Love said.
English dropped a 15-footer on the par-4 15th to become the first player here to reach double-digits under par,
“I grew up on greens like this down in south Georgia, fast Bermuda greens,” English said. “I’m very comfortable on these type of greens. I know when it’s going to be fast, and it’s really fast. And when into the green, it’s really slow. I have a good handle on the speed. That’s really what helped me today. When you get the speed down on the greens, you can start making some putts.”
English also is very familiar with Tennessee. He played at The Baylor School in Chattanooga, helping win four state titles including an individual high school championship for himself. He even won one of those titles at a course approximately an hour away. He also has friends currently in medical school here in Memphis that he has been visiting with the past couple days.
“It does feel like home,” English said.
The only hiccup in English’s round came on No. 18. He hit driver only twice Friday and stuck with his 3-wood off the tee only to hit what he called his only bad shot of the day. The ball stopped near a drain. He wound up with a 30-footer and two-putted for his lone bogey.
“I’m still looking for my first win and still hungry to be the best and to try to get my first win,” English said.
NOTES: Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old amateur from China who made the cut at the Masters Tournament, missed the cut. The cut came at 1-over 141, and he went 73-71-144. … Brandt Snedeker (143) and D.A. Points (148) also missed the cut. Paul Goydos did too, but he did play Friday and shot 72 (145) after fearing he had re-injured his left wrist in the opening round. … Ian Poulter took off his right sock and rolled his pant leg up to his knee with his ball resting just in the water fronting the par-4 12th green. He pitched the ball onto the green and then pointed at his white shirt, happy that none of the mud that went flying with his stroke hit him. He bogeyed the hole but was at 137.